Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Breakthrough isolating embryo-quality stem cells from blood

12.04.2005


Scientists have developed the first reliable way to extract stem cells from blood without adding contaminating markers



A major breakthrough in stem cell research – a new tool that could allow scientists to harvest stem cells ethically - will be announced at the Institute of Physics’ conference Physics 2005 in Warwick later today (Tuesday 12th April).

Professor Josef Käs and Dr Jochen Guck from the University of Leipzig have developed a procedure that can extract and isolate embryo-quality stem cells from adult blood for the first time. This new technique could unlock the stem cell revolution and stimulate a boom in medical research using stem cells.


Stem cells are cells which have not yet differentiated into specialised tissues such as skin, brain or muscle. They promise a new class of regenerative medicine, which could repair apparently permanent damage such as heart disease or Parkinson’s. The cells are currently taken from aborted human foetuses, an issue which has led to controversy and opposition in many parts of the world. Any alternative source, such as voluntary adult donations, could spark a boom in new cures.

Scientists have known for some time that stem cells exist in adult human blood and certain other tissues. However the only reliable way to separate them involved marking the cells with a chemical dye, rendering them useless for medical purposes. Professor Käs’ technique for the first time uses a physical characteristic of each cell – its stretchiness or elasticity – instead of its biological make-up, to decide whether or not it’s a stem cell. Stem cells don’t need a rigid "cytoskeleton" to hold them in shape, which makes them stretchier than normal cells.

Käs and Guck’s machine uses a powerful beam of infrared laser light to stretch and measure cells one by one. His optical stretcher differs from an existing tool known as optical tweezers in which the light is focused to a sharp point to grab hold of a cell. In contrast, the optical stretcher uses un-focused light. This allows laser beams strong enough to detect stretching to be used without killing the cell.

According to Dr Michael Watts, an expert in haematology and stem cells at University College London, there are just 10,000 primitive cells in the average adult’s bloodstream. Of those, only 500 might have the potential to replace embryonic stem cells. Stem cell research requires millions of these cells.

Bone marrow donors are routinely treated with a drug known as G-CSF which "mobilises" stem cells from the bone marrow into the blood. After G-CSF treatment the donor’s blood is passed through a centrifuge and back into their body, akin to a kidney dialysis machine, harvesting two or three hundred million primitive cells in the process.

Various properties of these primitive cells have been used to try and isolate the 5% or so with the highest stem cell potential, but no single technology has proved completely successful for human stem cells. This is where the optical stretcher could come to the rescue, picking those cells one by one according to the strength of their cytoskeletons. Watts explains that such an advance could have far-reaching consequences for medical treatments. "We could add significantly to our knowledge of stem cell biology toward developing cellular therapies," he says.

The optical stretcher can already test 3,600 cells per minute. This is not yet fast enough for industrial separation of millions of high grade stem cells, but it promises a realistic alternative to embryo use if it can be scaled up. Meanwhile, it is already being used to isolate low-grade stem cells which can develop into skin. In collaboration with medical professionals in Leipzig, elderly patients are being treated for persistent non-healing wounds. Low-grade stem cells isolated from the patient’s own blood are applied to the wound to kick-start the healing process.

David Reid | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.physics2005.iop.org
http://www.iop.org

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Breaking the optical bandwidth record of stable pulsed lasers
24.01.2017 | Institut national de la recherche scientifique - INRS

nachricht European XFEL prepares for user operation: Researchers can hand in first proposals for experiments
24.01.2017 | European XFEL GmbH

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists spin artificial silk from whey protein

X-ray study throws light on key process for production

A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Breaking the optical bandwidth record of stable pulsed lasers

24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Choreographing the microRNA-target dance

24.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Spanish scientists create a 3-D bioprinter to print human skin

24.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>